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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Day Stalker

Looking at pen pal requests from some of the more notorious Death Row inmates is a great way to study sociopathy. There's no doubt about their sociopathy, so you get to analyze their letters in that light, and see exactly what it is that betrays their sociopathy.

Here's another pen pal request, in case you're in the mood to correspond:


FRANKLIN LYNCH SQSP


If you were able to place yourself in my present position filled with adversity, wouldn't you desire a connection with someone who just might provide you with moral support through regular correspondence---a way to help you maintain your mental health and stability, despite the darker sides and negative images that exist within the personalities beyond these myriad walls?
If so, please feel free to write to me so that we may exchange thoughts and some of our common interests, such as academics, politics, economics, reading novels, travel, family life, spirituality, sports, abolition of the death penalty, and various secular issues. With much Love and Appreciation, Franklin
Lynch demonstrates that peculiar sociopathic stylistic quirk, overuse of adjectives and adverbs: he wants to establish a meaningful friendship with someone willing to sincerely empathize with his unfortunate situation. (At one point he even gets adverbs and adjectives confused, when he speaks of his "unjustly conviction.")

Lynch, like the fellow in the previous post, has taken a moral stance against the death penalty. Note his use of the word "abolition," which vaguely equates his cause with Abolition. It's also nice to see that he has an interest in "family life" and "spirituality."

Note also that he says he wants to "maintain" his mental health and stability. He doesn't want to gain it, he merely wants to keep it in the hostile environs to which he has been unjustly confined. The implication is that he is currently mentally healthy and stable.

When he says "despite the darker sides and negative images that exist within the personalities beyond these myriad walls" he is of course trying to dissociate himself from all those bad guys who are in prison. ("Myriad" is evidently a word beloved by both high school poets and Death Row inmates.)

And look at Lynch's nice smile. Or is that more the gleefully devilish grin of a man impervious to remorse?

You should probably withhold judgment until you find out a little more about him.

Lynch was known for a while as "The Day Stalker," and terrorized the Bay Area during the mid-80's. He was convicted of robbing and killing three old ladies, and is suspected of at least a dozen other murders as well.

One 89-year-old woman, in a typical killing, was found with her hands tied behind her back, a blanket tied around her head, and numerous broken bones as well as a brain hemorrhage.

(When he talks about the "common interests" you might have, he omits beating little old ladies to death. Musta been an oversight.)

One quintessentially sociopathic characteristic is that they always assume they can fool you. This is not only true of sociopaths on the outside, but even of Death Row inmates who have been convicted of the most monstrous of crimes. A sociopath never stops being a sociopath, however, and the shame of it is that even after having been exposed for what they are they can almost always find more gullible people to con.

23 comments:

Brian Fradet said...

Hi John,

I get the wisdom in what you're saying about all this. The only question for me is what about the small percentage of inmates who are falsely accused--"he was a big black guy"--there are many of such. Which begs the question: is it worth assuming the worst of every convict? I'm also saying this in the spirit of devils advocate. Except, if there's DNA evidence, then of course that's another matter. And also, not to beat this to death (no pun intended) but isn't there a rash of convicts that are now being exonerated because of the new DNA tech? Thanks, Brian

John Craig said...

Brian --
Good point. There have definitely been wrong convictions in the past, but those who are rarely make it to Death Row. Prosecutors generally make very sure of their facts before they ask for the death penalty. Yes, there have been a couple of cases where people were let off Death Row because of dna evidence, but I'm not even sure of their innocence. Lack of DNA evidence proving guilt is not the same as proof of innocence, even if the conviction has to be overturned.

There's been some prosecutorial misconduct (I actually think that's a job which attracts more than its share of sociopaths), but in so many cases the evidence is so overwhelming that I feel very comfortable analyzing the inmates' letters in the light of sociopathy. And with most of these guys their letters actually make them sound like sociopaths anyway, if you know what to look for.

John Craig said...

PS -- The most well known example of people being let go because of DNA evidence is the Central Park Jogger case. But from what I've heard and read about that case, that group of boys who were "wilding" that night were definitely guilty, whether or not they left any DNA evidence on her. And the older fellow who confessed to the attack later on evidently had incentive to do so since he was serving a life sentence anyway, and had a relationship with one of the boys who were convicted.

Pete said...

He's had trouble finding people who would "empathize" with him? Gee, I wonder why, he seems like such a nice man (sarcasm). His smile really looks like the leer of the devil. His crimes could hardly be any more disgusting; what a way for a senior to end their life.
Twenty three years on death row is in itself a travesty; he should have been disposed of many years ago. Convicts have usually gotten away with ten times the number of crimes that they've been convicted for. This guy is suspected in plenty more, as per the usual pattern. Expedite the appeals process and get rid of them.

John Craig said...

Pete --
You're absolutely right, it is a travesty that these guys spend so long on Death Row.

Brian Fradet said...

John,

Thanks. Makes sense. I do get it. Later, B

Steven said...

John, I've never been able to grasp the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath...what exactly is it?

John Craig said...

Steven --
There is no difference, really. Some people try to claim that "psychopaths" become that way because of an organic condition of the brain, while "sociopaths" grow up that way because of their environments, but that's debatable to begin with, and they end up the same way anyway. I prefer the term "sociopath" because too many people use "psychopath" to mean someone who is psychotic, or crazy.

Steven said...

Is the nature/nurture of sociopaths a contentious issue?

John Craig said...

Steven --
No, certainly not like the nature/nurture debate concerning intelligence.

Steven said...

Is it a difficult issue? is it unclear?

John Craig said...

Steven --
I think there are varying opinions on it. There are certainly cases where frontal lobe damage has had a strong effect on the moral -- but not intellectual -- development of a person. The case which is always cited in that regard is that of Phineas Gage, the 19th century railroad engineer who had been a perfectly upstanding citizen until in an accident he had a metal bar go through his frontal lobe. At that point, while he maintained control over his faculty, he by all reports became a different person, lying, cheating, being impulsive, becoming spiteful, and generally acting like a sociopath.

There's also thought to be a strong hormonal component to sociopathy: men have traditionally been thought to become sociopaths much more frequently than women, simply because all that testosterone makes for a more fearless, more aggressive, less socializable nature.

But, the general consensus seems to be that th main cause of sociopathy is simply th slack of a close bond with a nurturing adult in the first couple years of life, maybe even in just the first year of life. This is why so many sociopaths grew up as orphans, or with mothers who were alcoholic (and thus loved the bottle more than their offspring).

Your original question was, is this issue contentious, and as far as I know there's never been any bitter or rancorous debate on the subject, merely different theories. It's not as if there's a strong nature camp and a strong nurture camp and they both demonize each other the way the nurture camp demonizes the nature camp vis-a-vis the IQ debate.

John Craig said...

PS -- I suppose it's not entirely clear. But with this issue it's hard to have double blind studies or controlled experiments to see how someone's character turns out. You just can't play with people's lives in such an all-encompassing way. I guess it would be possible to have separate twin studies, but there have been none, to my knowledge.

Steven said...

it could be both, you know, genetic predisposition plus lack of bond. because some people have a lack of a bond and turn out fine, don't they?

But if it is more about nurture, are you concerned about the modern trend of mothers going back to work so soon and putting babies in daycare ie babies being looked after by paid strangers? That could mean less of a mother-baby bond.

I hope our society isn't raising sociopaths. That sounds too dramatic...but more of them at least.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Sure, it could be both. My impression is that people who had no early bond don't turn out "fine." They may not be sociopaths, but they are usually at least narcissistic personalities.

Yes, mothers working instead of nurturing babies definitely leads to a more narcissistic population as a whole. Wars (which creates orphans) and upheaval of any sort always leads to a more feral society as well.

Jeffery Jones said...

I just received a letter from Franklin today. I initially emailed him a month ago. I am kind of nervous to open it.

John Craig said...

Jeffery --
I thought prisoners had no access to email.

Jeffery Jones said...

John if you go to this link there is an option to email Franklin free of charge.

http://www.friendsbeyondthewall.com/Prison-Pen-Pal.php?r=18517

John Craig said...

Jeffery --
Thank you, my mistake. Generally prisoners are not allowed access to computers because of all the mischief they would cause. I guess someone in the process there is willing to print out the emails and allow Franklin to return them via snail mail.

I don't blame you for feeling scared, though there's nothing the Day Stalker can do to hurt you from behind bars. (I strongly doubt he has the kinds of contacts through which he could order a hit from inside.)

Jeffery Jones said...

I just read his letter and it was actually a no BS letter. He was formal, nice, and respectful. Didn't ask for anything. He basically just hopes I write him back. He seemed interested in my initial topic of conversation. So I am going to write back and see where it go's from there. My wife was more freaked out then I was. I just wanted to send the guy some mail to be friendly. He speaks of his ongoing appeal. But most know it will never go through.

John Craig said...

Jeffery --
If your motives are as you say, then you're a goodhearted soul. But I think there are more deserving recipients of your friendliness than Franklin Lynch.

I can understand your wife's nervousness.

Jeffery Jones said...

I do you see your point John. If you know of anyone who is not receiving any inmate mail and is wanting to, please let me know of their address and information. I will write to them.

John Craig said...

Jeffery --
I don't know of anybody, but then again, I'm not the person to ask.